Trump Campaign Blames “Scammers” After Being Busted (Again) for Soliciting Foreign Donations

Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2011 in Washington, D.C, on February 10, 2012. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2011 in Washington, DC, on February 10, 2012. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

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An Australian Member of Parliament is still receiving messages from the Donald Trump presidential campaign asking for money, more than a month after the illegal solicitations were first reported to the Department of Justice and the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

MP Terri Butler informed The Hill that she received a Trump fundraising email on August 14. It was the latest in a series of automated fundraising messages from the GOP nominee’s campaign that Butler and other foreign lawmakers have received, dating back to June.

It is against the law for campaigns to receive or even seek out foreign donations. The Trump campaign’s repeated violations suggest that it is either flouting federal election rules or that it lacks internal controls to maintain compliant mailing lists.

A Trump campaign official, however, blamed outside agitators. They told The Hill that the campaign “routinely checks” their mailing lists for foreign nationals, but that sometimes “scammers will continue to try to add them to our system.”

Election finance groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center have filed complaints with the FEC and the DOJ regarding Trump’s illegal fundraising efforts. The maneuvering has, apparently, not led to behavioral changes at Trump Towers.

Butler’s latest email from the campaign asks her to make a contribution in order to “join the highest ranks of our campaign as an Executive Member.”

“There is no ambiguity about the fact that these solicitations are illegal,” Fred Wertheimer, the president of non-profit watchdog Democracy 21, said on Monday.

“It’s inexplicable and impossible to understand why the Trump campaign appears to still be illegally soliciting foreign donations after they have been put on notice numerous times that this is illegal,” he added.

The FEC rules are intended to prohibit foreign money from flowing into US elections. An investigation by The Intercept this month, however, revealed that overseas interests have already managed to finance US politics, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.

The investigative news outlet discovered a secret memo that instructed a Chinese couple on how to contribute to Jeb Bush’s SuperPac, Right to Rise, during the run up to the GOP primary last year.

The memo was prepared by Charlie Spies, the treasurer and general counsel of the SuperPac. The couple, Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen, subsequently funneled $1.3 million to Right to Rise through a domestic subsidiary corporation.

Spies told The Intercept that he wrote the memo “to ensure compliance with the law.”